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Darrow “often used my poems to rescue his clients from the electric chair.”

October 10, 2011 By: John Kindley Category: Claire Wolfe, Clarence Darrow, Gerry Spence, Thomas Knapp

Noted A. E. Housman, whom Darrow visited in 1927. Housman has long been a personal favorite of mine, ever since I was turned on to him (and Omar, and Reading Gaol) by Robert Service’s poem “Bookshelf.” Here’s a representative sample:

Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea,
And still the sea is salt.

I am, alas, not particularly inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement,  for sentiments suggested by the poem above and reasons expressed by Thomas Knapp, Gerry Spence, and especially Claire Wolfe, who advises: “Occupy Your Ownself.”

3 Comments to “Darrow “often used my poems to rescue his clients from the electric chair.””


  1. Wow … me, in the same sentence as Gerry Spence and Claire Wolfe? I’d better go buy a “WIDE LOAD” sign for my ego 😉

    Seriously, thanks for calling my attention to Housman. I’ll have to check his poetry out.

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    • John Kindley says:

      Be forewarned (if the poem quoted isn’t warning enough): he’s dark, “moping melancholy mad.” But I find such poetry, like Housman’s and Omar’s, like Ecclesiastes, liberating. The bomb-throwing anarchists of Darrow’s day are inspiring in their passion and organization, in the splash they made on the consciousness of their day. But ultimately I’m more convinced by Nock’s notion of the “Remnant,” by Claire Wolfe’s take on things, and by the “counter-economics” aspect of C4SS’ “teachings.” We’ve got lives to live, and I don’t want to go out of my way to give the State the pleasure of hanging me like it did the Haymarket defendants. (Though their “crime” was mere speech, and the risk of speaking truth is a risk no one with integrity can avoid.) If the revolution, bloody or bloodless, comes, it will come organically, as the sum of millions of personal revolutions.

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  2. I’m not sure the beginnings of civil unrest are ever very focused or coherent. There is little that could be inspiring about a tinder box awaiting a match.

    It still strikes me that Dickens mapped this out a long time ago. It’s just the human tragedy playing itself out all over again. The revolutionaries will eventually take over, but no one will like that, either.

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